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Local firewood prevents spreading invasive insects

LINCOLN, Neb. – Forestry experts are urging campers to purchase locally harvested firewood at their destination to prevent spreading invasive insects.

Highly destructive, exotic insects, such as emerald ash borer, or EAB, are frequently spread through the transport of infested firewood. Once introduced to new areas, these pests quickly become established and threaten local tree resources. By purchasing locally harvested firewood and burning all wood on site, campers can help minimize this risk.

“EAB was recently found near LaCrosse, Wisc., just 300 miles from Nebraska, and St. Paul, Minn.,” said Steve Rasmussen, Nebraska Forest Service district forester and Great Plains Initiative coordinator. “We want to keep EAB out of Nebraska as long as possible, and encouraging people to purchase locally harvested firewood at their destination is one of the best defenses we have against this pest being brought to our state.”

EAB is a non-native, or invasive, insect that attacks and kills all North American ash species, including green ash, which is native to Nebraska, and white, black and autumn purple ashes, all of which are popular landscape trees. The beetle disrupts the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.

In Nebraska, there are an estimated 37 million ash trees growing in towns and cities, as well as forests and conservation plantings. These trees will all be at risk when EAB arrives here.

Symptoms of EAB include winding tunnels just under the bark, one-eighth inch, D-shaped exit holes on the trunk, as well as canopy loss, usually from the top down. Ash trees infested with EAB also may have sprouts growing from the roots or trunk of the tree. Other symptoms include vertical splitting in the bark on the trunk and increased woodpecker activity.

The insect itself is bright, metallic green with a flat back. Adults are typically one-half inch long.

For more information about identifying ash trees and EAB, visit http://www.nfs.unl.edu or http://www.emeraldashborer.info. For more information about the national effort to prevent the spread of invasive species through firewood movement, visit http://www.dontmovefirewood.org.

For more information about the Great Plains Tree and Forest Invasives Initiative contact Rasmussen at srasmussen2@unl.edu.

Those who suspect EAB in their trees, should contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2394 or the National EAB Hotline at (866) 322-4512.


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